‘Paalam’ P. Kalyansundaram may look like a common man and obviously he is, but his heart and intentions are not common, his heart is a real gem that is filled to the brim with compassion and sympathy for the poor and needy people of the society. And not just this, but his actions are immensely inspiring and surprising for the other people. What Kalyansundaram has been doing is not something usual, but is something that people must know, acknowledge and follow. He has been living a very simple life but his ideology and simplicity have made him a man of substance. This old man who is a retired librarian has shown to the world an entirely new perspective of charity; he has made charity and social service his prime priorities and agendas in his life. He has worked tirelessly for the needy and poor people and particularly for the children and has been donating every single penny that he earns. He even has done many odd jobs just to donate the earned money to the poor ones. His life is a great example of simplicity, hard-work, humanity and no expectations.
Kalyansundram was both born and brought up in Melakaruvelangulam village belonged to Nangunari Taluk in Tirunelveli District. He had seen a very tough childhood in the village where there was no comfort, facilities like; electricity, schools, roads, buses and not even, a single utility shop. He states that till the age of ten years he used to study in candlelight or the light of kerosene lamp. He was just 1 year old when he lost his father and his mother brought him up all alone. He finished his higher secondary schooling after which he seriously wanted to acquire a Bachelor Degree (B.A) in Tamil subject but since he was the only student in the St. Xavier’s College, Tirunelveli; who wanted to study Tamil as a main subject, the management of college tried to convince him to opt any other subject but Kalyansundaram was very determined. Thus, finally his passion had won the founder of MTT Hindu College; Karumuttu Thygaraja Chettiar willingly admitted him in the course that he wanted to pursue. The founder of the college was so much impressed with the sheer determination and high spirit of this youngster that he also took care of all his educational expenses. States Kalyansundaram, that he still feels so thankful to the generosity of Karumuttu Chettiar to help and motivate him during those days.
The spark of social service and charity was already ignited within his heart, since his childhood he tried to feel the pain of the poor and needy people. It was the time when Kalyanasundaram was doing Library Science in Madras University and one day he listened to Jawaharlal Nehru on the radio while pleading the general public to contribute to the defence fund (for helping the needy people when the Indo-China War was on). He then went to the Chief Minister; Kamaraj and gave him his gold chain. Kalyansundaram was probably the first student in the college to have done that kind action, chief minister Kamaraj got so impressed by this benevolent act of this young boy that he commemorated him on a special function on May Day in the year 1963.
P. Kalyansundaram later joined as a Librarian at the Kumarkarupa Arts College in Tuticorin where he spent 35 years of his working tenure and also continued to do social service. He never kept even a single penny with him and donated all his monthly salaries to the poor people, during that time he donated the big amount of money that he received from the sale of his ancestral property then he also donated a huge amount of Rs. 1 Lakhs that he received as a salary debt to the district collector to be used for the orphan children.
P.Kalyansundaram’s focus has been on the orphan/poor and needy children for the last 45 years of his life. And this compassion for children only gave birth to the idea of running a social welfare organization that was named as ‘Paalam’. Paalam basically works as a mediator between the donors and the beneficiaries that helps in providing every kind of assistance tot eh needy children including money, free education, medical facilities, emergency help and support, organizing blood donation camps, free counselling to the unemployed, elderly people, and rehabilitation to the disabled or handicapped. Kalyansundaram wants to expand and enhance the services of Paalam so that a huge number of needy people and children could be benefited by the same, he also wants to establish an international university based in Tamil Nadu with foreign assistance and help. His zeal to work for the society and its people is combined with a sense of social justice; he believes that everyone should be treated with equality and humanity.
His great deeds and thinking has made him an outstanding personality; he has been chosen as ‘one of the top ten librarians of the world’ beside this, the Union Government also has felicitated him as ‘the Best Librarian in India’. He has also been honoured as ‘one of the noblest of the world’ by The International Biographical Centre while the United Nations Organization honoured him as ‘one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century’, he has also been selected as the ‘Man of the Millennium’.
This man is indeed a great example of social service, good intentions and humanity in front of the young generation of our country. what a great man he is for whom money plays no significant role but he just want to serve the society, its people and the country at his best! Such kind of humble and kind persons are rare to find but they are the treasure of the country. The youth of India should feel proud of him and should also take inspiration to do service for the society and the nation without having even a single motive of profit or returns. Kalyansundaram is giving a wonderful lesson to the young generation that money is for us, we are not for it and it is up to us that how do we use it, if it is put in the temporary means it will be forgotten soon but if the same money is utilized for the welfare and service of the people it would certainly bring progress and change in the society.